Who Protects The Environment Better, The Governmen

1711 words - 7 pages

The topic of environmental protection is one that is very political and has been debated time and time again. Those on the left, like with most other problems, turn to the government to step in a put in place a solution. Countering the left's position, conservatives believe mostly in private ownership of environmental properties. I firmly believe that private ownership is the best way to answer the question of environmental protection. In the pre-World War II era, the government mostly did not interfere with environmental issues. It stayed out and allowed individuals to take care of their environmental problems. As people's income rises, so does their interest in nature. This started to occur in the 1950's. During this time period private groups such as The Nature Conservancy and The National Audubon Society were formed and built sanctuaries nation wide. Unfortunately in the late 1960's and 1970's, the "Woodstock Generation" started calling on the government to solve social problems, including environmental protection ("How Free Markets Protect the Environment"). In response to their call, in July of 1970 the Environmental Protection Agency was formed in order to "repair the damage already done to the natural environment and to establish new criteria to guide Americans in making a cleaner environment a reality." ("About EPA") Although the EPA was created to work for sensible cause, like most government agencies, it has done more harm than good. It has created rules and regulations that are, do to the amount that exist, almost impossible to abide by them all. It is true that companies are the most probable violators of environmental laws. In a 1993 survey of 200 lawyers conducted by the National Law Journal, less than one third of the responding lawyers felt that it was possible to fully comply with federal environmental laws. A look at the EPA's activities show that it exerts greater effort to obtain fines and jail penalties than to clean up the environment; the EPA appears to care more about its rules than the environmental results. In 1994, the EPA notes, civil penalties and criminal fines for environmental violations were a record $151 million. But pulling in an environmental fine does not necessarily improve environmental protection. Whether any of EPA's actions improve environmental quality is unknown ("Anti-Environmental Enforcement"). It should be noted that the largest polluter in the country is not a large corporation but the federal government, the same government that is supposed to stop pollution and protect peoples' health from dangerous chemicals released into the environment. In the past, the EPA has filed lawsuits against other government agencies, like the Departments of Energy and Defense to force the cleaning of 17 weapons plants that were leaking toxic and radioactive chemicals. However, since all government officials have sovereign immunity, no criminal or civil penalties could be administered....

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